I had promised insanity, blood, and pygmy hippos on this blog. But let me begin with a taxi driver named Fariba.

Since my ultimate destination of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, was only 3 hours away, I had the whole day to explore Chicago before setting out for the last leg of my journey. So I got online to look at my tourist options. I could go to Lincoln Park Zoo where there was no parking, leave the car in an alley, and walk while gangs set fire to the Subaru. Or I could visit the historic Lake Forest area. I wanted to do that, but I knew that Google Maps would take me through every toll booth within a 100 mile radius before getting me lost in Ohio. Since I didn’t have $82.oo in spare change for tolls, I kept looking. Then I found the Brookfield Zoo.

I asked Francheska, the helpful young woman at Reception, how to get to the Brookfield. She said, “Take the train.”

That’s the problem with living in a small town of 80,000. All we have is a bus that takes handicapped people to Wal-mart. I wasn’t thinking big enough.

So, needing a ride to the train station, I called a taxi service. Fariba answered. He has an accent. I am deaf on the phone. This was our conversation:


“Hello. I’m at the Quality Inn in Aurora, and would like to take a taxi to the train station. Can you give me an idea of how much that could cost?”

“Sixty-seven dollars.”

“Sixty-seven dollars?”

“NO. SIX. TO. SEVEN. DOLLARS. . .  Jckkslzzcypppp!”

“Excuse me?”


“Please say that again.”

“What is the matter? Can you not hear? Ffszchyckkz! I’m having a coffee first. YOU have a coffee. I’ll see you after 10. . . Gzzrrppblfsttkljzzzzz . . .”

After our coffee break Fariba showed up and drove me to the train station. And after the phone debacle, I had to pretend that I knew what I was doing when he dropped me off. I headed toward the nearest building like I knew what it was. It could have been someone’s house, a public bathroom, or a police station. Thank goodness it was the ticket counter. I bought my round trip tickets, then sat on a bench to wait.

Fun fact for country bumpkins: Chicago passenger trains are two stories high.

Another fun fact: Crazy people ride them.

Here’s one:

At first I thought he was talking into his hand. After 20 minutes I realized that he had a cell phone buried in his hair (You can’t see the three foot braid), and I could only hope that someone was on the other end of the line. Especially after we ended up being the only two people on the train car by the time I got off.

So back to the Brookfield. Here is the Pygmy Hippo I promised:

My first pygmy hippo in real life. I was thrilled even though he spent all of his time eating dirt and pooping it back out.

I also promised blood. That happened when I was walking the several blocks from the zoo back to the train stop.

I take after my mother. We do random pratfalls for no reason. Sometimes even when we’re just standing still. This time, though, I was walking from the zoo to the train stop and stubbed my toe on a crack in the sidewalk. I went down, arched my back so I wouldn’t shove my nose into my brain, and landed heavily on my hands. By the time I’d climbed to my feet, my hands were dripping blood. Not enough to warrant a fire truck. Just enough to make a young man at the train stop hide behind a pillar when I spoke to him.

I didn’t have tissues with me, so I couldn’t clean the blood off. And I didn’t want to touch anything in case there was flesh-eating staph lurking on a nearby brick, so I stood with my hands out at my sides like I was drying nail polish. My posture, the dripping blood, and the fact that I had sweated heartily while walking around the zoo, all made me look as if I had just slaughtered a family of five while they slept. I cleared a path by my mere presence and was the first to board.

Needless to say, I sported eye-catching scabs at my book signing. Also, needless to say, I bandaged up before handling the books. I knew it wasn’t hygienic to dot my I’s with DNA.

The next blog – BOOK SIGNING – PART 3 – will be about friends, Sheboygan, and the actual book signing.

Stay tuned . . .

I would love it if you left a comment or observation in the ‘leave a comment’ section under this.

Have fun!

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8 Responses to BOOK SIGNING – PART 2

  1. Snuffygump says:

    I saved reading the latest blog until I could read it out loud to Val. It was almost impossible to get through. Both Val and I found it difficult to release from each episode of gut retching laughter. When two of you are having the same difficulty it is nigh impossible to move to the next line. Good Grief….or should I emphasize this with Goodnous Griefous to the Maximus! (one semester of Latin) Phew!!! So many very special tidbits. I mean, DNA, for heavens sake! See, I can’t even express myself. Pure genius. I want to shout it from the mountain tops!

  2. Samudra says:

    Trust us to have the funniest stories, huh?

  3. Thea Phipps says:

    Bless you, Snuffygump! You’ve left me speechless as well :D

  4. Thea Phipps says:

    I think we’re oddity magnets, Samudra :)

  5. tina hoback says:

    Your all kinds of awesomeness…one day I’ll be able to buy your latest venture of a book…. kisses to the doublemint aunts xoxox our family

  6. Thea says:

    <3 Tina Hoback :)

  7. Saundra says:

    I’ve been patiently waiting to read these blogs since I had the pleasure of meeting
    you at your Sheboygan book signing. You have such a wonderful way with words to say nothing of the manner in which you view life. I love everything you write. You could make a night visit to the loo hilarious!

  8. Thea says:

    What a sweet thing to say Saundra! I enjoyed meeting you at the signing. Thank you for coming that day!

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